Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—thing about such things.
(Philippians 4:6-8, NIV)
One morning, as I prayed for members of my family, I realized how much anxiety was wrapped around my prayers. How much worry I felt over various issues in their lives! I wondered if there was a better way to pray for my loved ones.
I thought of remembering the things about each of them that inspired gratitude. I thought of remembering happy times in the past. I thought of what made each one of them uniquely precious.
This calmed me. I was better able to accept the difficulties of the present when I framed it with what was in the past. I thought less of trying to influence God to make changes according to my plans. I didn’t feel as if I were holding my breath until everything came out the way I wanted it to.
One of my adult children came over recently to work out some family business and also to spend time together. We chatted about her activities and her friends. I had been feeling tired and physically uncomfortable before this visit, as I was recovering from an outpatient medical procedure. Afterwards, I was amazed at how much my energy level had increased. Just having this pleasant time of sharing had lifted my spirits in so many ways. This is the kind of thing I want to remember with thanksgiving when I pray for this daughter.
Now, I remind myself to add thanksgiving into my requests to God, so that I won’t simply be listing my anxieties when I pray. When I’m moved to pray for a friend or family member, I try to bring up a pleasant memory or an appreciation of that person’s positive qualities. This isn’t easy when I’m particularly worried about the person I’m praying for. I’m still learning to overcome my habit of praying by worrying instead of praying with trust in God and with thanksgiving for God’s blessings.
Let us pray...
God of wisdom and peace, hear our prayers through our all-too-human fears. Meet us in our turbulent emotions, and calm our worries. Let us listen for the voice of the Comforter, your Holy Spirit. Teach us to trust in you, and rest in you. Reassure us of your blessings and grace. Amen.